6.8.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo by Philip Hartigan
Photo by Philip Hartigan

June 8, 2013: They said it was for ‘men only.’

One Reply to “6.8.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. At the Hotel Covent it’s men only. It says so on the wall outside. Only men can stay there, it says it in painted white letters on the red brick wall, painted letters as big as doors are. Mind you, it says it’s a hotel too and it ain’t really that so maybe there could be some flexibility about the other.

    Carl goes there some nights, when the cold of the streets is in his bones and he has a little more than usual collected in his cup. For three dollars they give you a room and a bath and a bowl of soup to warm your insides and some bread. Ain’t no lock on the door of your room but Carl edges his bed against it so no one can come creeping and him not knowing till a hand is down his trousers – that’s what happened the first night and so Carl learned his lesson.

    Just three dollars, he says to me, and there’s a blanket on the bed and curtains at the window and the cold is slow in reaching you there.

    Carl and me, we been sort of helping each other. Well, he’s been helping me really. He sort of looks out for me and he listens to my stories when I’ve a mind to tell ‘em. And he don’t ever get fresh when we’re sitting close enough that he could. I sleep with him some nights, not in any biblical sense, just sleeping and sharing each other’s warmth and something soft too.

    Soup ain’t anything special, but it’s hot and there’s real meat and vegetables in it, and the bread is not stale. That’s what Carl tells me, and he says I could pass for a man with my coat shut and so I do.

    It smells in the Hotel Covent. It smells of bodies that ain’t washed. There’s a bath in the room like Carl told me, but the water runs cold and there ain’t no soap and no towel and no temptation to undress. There’s a bed, and it has a soiled sheet to cover the mattress and a blanket that smells of fish and smoke and something else that is sour like milk that has turned.

    I do like Carl says, and I push the bed up against the door and I sleep with all my clothes on, just my boots removed and standing to attention beside the bed. I should sleep then, only sleep don’t come as easy as I expected. It’s the first I have spent the night in a room for nearly three months and it feels a little like a trap. Carl says it can do that sometimes and he says if it does I can find him in room 128.

    For three dollars I got a bowl of hot soup that I ate too fast and it scalded my tongue; and I got a shelter from the cold and the hard; and I slept with Carl in a bed and it was like being married, like marriage is when it is new and everything is kind and gentle and just holding.

    Men only, it said on the wall outside, but they weren’t so particular if you had three dollars to give ‘em and the three dollars counted out in pennies and dimes. And on a good week me and Carl, well we could maybe beg enough we could stay every third night at the Hotel Covent, and each time we did it was just like the first time.

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